breaking news

Clark County approves 2 percent raise for workers

Honda, Toyota supplier to add 85 jobs, build $55M Springfield plant

A Japanese auto parts manufacturer will take over a prominent business park in Springfield and create 85 new jobs as part of a $55 million investment.

Topre America Corp. had announced plans in December to build a 20,000-square-foot facility at the Champion City Business Park and create 20 jobs. But the company has already acquired additional work supplying Honda and Toyota, and Monday’s announcement marks a significant expansion of its original plans.

RELATED: Honda supplier to open in Springfield, build $10M new plant

The business park was once the home of a thriving Navistar plant that has long since closed and been torn down. Topre will bring new life to the site, Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said.

“This is a site that was the heart of this community,” he said. “To have that heart beating again will be a major symbolic reality for this community.”

Topre specializes in stamping and producing high-strength steel products, which are increasingly in demand as the auto industry shifts toward strong, lightweight materials that can withstand crashes but are also light enough to improve fuel efficiency.

The manufacturer has long-term plans for further expansion at the site, company leaders said Monday. The project is contingent on the approval of state and local incentives.

Details of the incentive package in Springfield haven’t been finalized, according to information from the city.

READ MORE: Honda supplier may be expanding its investment in Springfield

Company officials announced in December they would build a facility on the site to produce the front bulk head for the Acura MDX. In just a few months, the company has acquired additional work with Toyota, and will produce high-strength steel parts for the Toyota Rav4 crossover sports utility vehicle, said Brad Pepper, vice president for Topre America.

The original project for the MDX will move forward and could begin production as early as this September, Pepper said. The company’s plans announced Monday called for full production for the Rav4 to begin as early as the end of next year.

The average starting wage for the new jobs will be $19.50 per hour. Springfield competed with sites in New York, Mississippi and Tennessee for the project.

“People want hope,” Mike McDorman, president and CEO of the Chamber of Greater Springfield said. “They want a job, and these are the kinds of jobs that are going to drive our community forward.”

DETAILS: Springfield sites among 1st to get designation that may add jobs

Discussion about a possible expansion ramped up quickly in mid-February, said Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the chamber.

Hobbs described the company’s decision as a psychological victory for Clark County that could continue to provide stable manufacturing jobs for the foreseeable future. Topre, based in Japan, has a history of expanding at its other facilities in the U.S. A plant in Spartan, Tenn., grew from 12 employees to 150 workers, and the company is now building a stamping facility nearby that’s expected to employ an additional 100 workers there.

“It’s a continued momentum-builder for the community,” Hobbs said.

Based on past projects, Pepper said it’s possible an additional expansion could take place in three to five years as Topre acquires more work. The company is boosting its U.S. production capacity by about 50 percent, he said.

Topre’s global sales were about $400 million in 2004 and rose to $1.6 billion in global sales in 2016.

“We are a supplier that cares about the product we’re delivering to our customer,” Pepper said.

Employees hired to work at the new facility will likely be asked to temporarily relocate to Tennessee or Alabama for training before returning to work at the facility in Springfield, Pepper said. The company is expected to hire about 20 workers later this year to begin work on the Acura MDX product and will continue next year as Topre moves forward with the additional work for Toyota.

The company considered several other sites for the project, but settled on Springfield in part because local leaders worked harder to make the project a reality, Pepper said. Springfield is also located a relatively short distance from Honda factories in Indiana and Marysville, Ohio, and to a Toyota plant in Kentucky.

Some local officials said Monday’s announcement, along with similar projects at Navistar, are a sign Clark County is finally showing signs of stability.

“Things are starting to roll,” Clark County Commissioner Melanie Wilt. “We’re at a tipping point.”

5 Quick Business Reads:

Navistar to add 300 jobs in Springfield with second GM deal

Honda to invest $53 million in data center in Ohio

EF Hutton deal may spur development in downtown Springfield

$500k artist studios coming to downtown Springfield

Prominent downtown Springfield property sees $300k in renovations

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

Pastor: Community ‘in shock’ after news about Good Samaritan closing
Pastor: Community ‘in shock’ after news about Good Samaritan closing

Hours after Good Samaritan Hospital officials announced Wednesday that the facility will close later this year, reaction about the community impact has been wide ranging. "It's devastating news, I was shocked" said Daryl Ward, pastor of Omega Baptist Church in Dayton.  His church is just down the street from Good Samaritan Hospital,...
Job outlook is promising for Good Samaritan employees, official says
Job outlook is promising for Good Samaritan employees, official says

After Wednesday’s announcement that Good Samaritan Hospital will shut its doors for good at the end of the year, many in the Miami Valley are wondering what will happen to the facility’s 1,600 employees. The hospital’s parent company, Premier Health, said its goal is to offer jobs to all those employees at its other facilities in...
Good Samaritan closing: What will happen to other local hospitals?
Good Samaritan closing: What will happen to other local hospitals?

After officials announced Good Samaritan Hospital will close at the end of the year, many people are wondering: Is my preferred hospital going to close next? The short answer: no. While the hospital’s closure will impact at least 1,600 employees, Premier Health does not intend on closing any other facilities in the region any time soon,...
PUCO: Part of natural gas bills will fall slightly
PUCO: Part of natural gas bills will fall slightly

A component of Vectren natural gas bills will fall slightly after the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) accepted the results of Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio’s auction for default natural gas service. The auction secured natural gas supply for Vectren’s customers from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, setting a retail price adjustment...
DHL jobs to be cut, but workers could land with new employer
DHL jobs to be cut, but workers could land with new employer

Freight giant DHL will permanently lay off 229 workers in Lima by March 12, the company has told Ohio government. The layoffs will happen at the company’s 635 N. Cool Road location in Allen County, the company said in a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) notice to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. But a DHL Supply...
More Stories